My time at PAX West with the fine folk developing Rebel Galaxy Outlaw was one of my favorite appointments because I walked in with only a vague inkling of what the game was, and by the time I’d left and seen the scope of the game, I was hooked.
Out of cash, out of luck, Juno Markev is a scrappy pilot on the trail of a killer, with a huge debt to pay all while trying to survive in the rough final frontier on the edges of the galaxy. Rebel Outlaw Galaxy has the flavor of the lawless old southwest…but in space.
Starting with a literal garbage truck, Juno will complete missions to earn coin to upgrade her ship into something more combat worthy, which of course will give the player more mission choices. Along the way, you can choose what factions you help, whether it’s pirates or the law enforcement, and they will remember your actions.
Your choices will ultimately determine which systems you have access to. As a merchant or lawful privateer, you will have access to more of the wealthy docks in the galaxy. A careful smuggler might have similar access, but if you play as more of an opportunist or an outright pirate, you’ll only be safe in the seedy outskirts of the galaxy, where no one asks your name.
All of these stations will have their own personality and unique layout. Some might be bright and shiny, reminiscient of The Citadel from Mass Effect, while others will be dark and seedy, like Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars. Every station will have a unique bar, with its own colorful natives to interact with. Besides rumors and information to lead you to new missions, you can actually spend a lot of time at the bar playing a very full featured pool, dice gambling games, slot machines, and even an Asteroid clone arcade game! The bar scene is so well developed you could theoretically play the game as a pool shark, traveling from system to system earning your way by winning pool tournaments.
However you earn your cash, now it’s time to customize your ride. Although I guess you could try to complete the game in a garbage truck. I’m kidding. Don’t do that.
Slap down the credits for a ship that suits you best. Upgrade your scrappy junker to agile interceptors, big capacity long-haulers, or high-performance military-grade fighters. All have custom cockpits and loadout options. White-hot energy weapons, greasy machineguns, magnetic mines – bolt on the firepower that suits your style. Install new power plants, trick out your afterburners, add countermeasures, radar, and a few bumper stickers to the dashboard. Adjust your power allocation before you head into the fray. There’s plenty of kit to try out and customize your ride just the way you like it.
The game also includes a ridiculously advanced in-game paint application. Seriously, this is like a full-featured 3-D photoshop suite just thrown into the game for free. You can literally make the exterior of your ship look any way you want. Colors, textures, patterns, imported images, whatever you want. Yes, even that, you pervert. If you really like your design, you can even upload it and pay to have a 3D printed model mailed to you! I got to hold a $50 small version of one of these models, and it was so freaking cool!
Now that you’ve paid for and designed the galaxy’s best fighter (OK technically you could build a long haul freighter, but…BORING), it’s time to see how she handles against the scum of the galaxy. Yes, we’re talking about dogfights. I’m personally thrilled that the developer has decided on a more fun, arcade approach instead of a simulation style for combat.
Some people are preoccupied with realism. We are preoccupied with explosions. Pulling hard turns and raking the hull of your target with 45mm lead while fire billows from their engine housing. Seeing the glass crack on your windscreen as a minitorp detonates just off your port side. Flaming and sparking debris tumbling into the black. That’s our thing. Let’s face it, space sims have always had a bit of a problem. Six degrees of freedom means lots of folks end up lost, and half the time you’re spinning in a circle trying to find an angle on a deeply unsatisfying space joust. We think we’ve got a pretty good solution to that. Every ship comes with an autopursuit mechanism which can be engaged at will to get your target onscreen. Spend your time fine tuning your weapons lead and dodging wreckage, not spinning in circles like an idiot.
That sounds like fun to me! Seriously, I am all in on this game. I rarely get excited for open world games, but this combination of fast-paced dogfighting, seedy bars, not to mention just being able to chill in space with the game’s 21+ hour custom soundtrack has me stoked.